Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Anna E. Nicholes, 1865 –1917

By Margaret M. Keating, Elgin, Illinois community volunteer

Anna E. Nicholes was born in 1865. She was one of the founders and a 13-year resident of Neighborhood House at 6710 South May Street, Chicago. She was also a founder and the first civic director of the Woman's City Club, a member of the county civil service commission, the Illinois Suffrage Association, the Consumer's League, the Woman's Trade Union League, and an editor for the Union Labor Advocate.

In 1906 Ms. Nicholes ran for, though did not win, the office of University of Illinois Trustee on the Democratic Party ticket. She was one of three individuals appointed in 1913-1914 as a Cook County Civil Service Commissioner, the first woman in the county to hold this position. She served as secretary of the commission. Nicholes was active in the fight for woman suffrage in Illinois. On March 7, 1911, she appeared before the Illinois legislature (House) with Jane Addams, Catharine Waugh McCulloch, Ella S. Stewart, and others, each woman giving three-minute speeches in support of the Brown and Tice suffrage bills. Nicholes also participated in the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy. She was active in the Woman's City Club in Chicago. Ms. Nicholes belonged to WTUL (Women's Trade Union League) and edited the women's section of the Union Labor Advocate. She authored articles and leaflets about settlement work. She was a member of the Consumers' League and the Woman's Trade Union League, and considered herself progressive in her politics. She was a resident of Neighborhood House (a social settlement) for thirteen years.

Anna Nicholes died in her summer home in Traverse City, Michigan on July 27, 1917. Her remains were brought to Chicago and were taken to Neighborhood House, where she had been head resident for many years. Her funeral was described as “one of the largest and most sympathetic ever held in the city, as she was beloved of all.” In memory of Ms. Nicholes, the president of the Woman's City club was quoted: "She has been for years the inspiration and originator of many of the biggest things which have been accomplished for the good of the city--a woman of broad vision; a dreamer who made her dreams real." Her obituary in the Suburbanite Economist stated, “Miss Nicholes was very dear to all of the Ogden Park people to whom she had endeared herself by many years of devoted social and civic service, and memorial of her great work will always live in the Neighborhood House settlement and the hall she was so active in promoting.”


Jane Addams Collection, Digital Edition,

Entry for Anna E. Nicholes, inb “Her Hat Was in the Ring,”

Bio sketch for Anna E. Nicholes in Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast, eds., Women Building Chicago, 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 634-36.

Suburbanite Economist, July 27, 1917

Andrew Feffer, The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993).

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